Olympic torch honour ‘in memory of my two beautiful girls’

Ian Richardson with daughter Ava
Ian Richardson with daughter Ava

A GRIEVING dad has been chosen to carry the Olympic Torch – and he told the Hartlepool Mail: “I will do it in memory of my two beautiful girls”.

Olympic Games bosses today gave Ian Richardson, 39, the news he’d been hoping for, that he had won the ultimate honour of carrying the torch.

Ian said: “Every step will be in memory of my wife and daughter”.

On August 8, 2010, Ian and his family were travelling home from a wedding in Scotland when his car was hit on the A1 in Newcastle by another vehicle travelling the wrong way on the road.

He and his youngest daughter Ava, now aged one, survived the accident but his wife Joanne, 40, and eldest daughter Mya, aged six, died.

Ever since, he has thrown himself into fundraising for the Jo and Mya Memorial Fund to help children who have lost loved ones.

Today, after being confirmed as one of the 8,000 torch relay runners, Hartlepool businessman Ian said: “This was always going to be a bittersweet moment.”

He said he was elated at “being chosen for this once in a lifetime opportunity” but would love to be able to go back to being an average Joe who had not suffered tragedy.

Ian said the news that he’d been chosen to carry the torch “had still not really sunk in”.

But he added: “I will dedicate it to Jo and Mya, and to Ava as well. Every step I take, I will take it with all three of them.”

Ian, who won an Award For Inspiration in the Mail’s first Pride of Hartlepool Awards, was nominated to carry the Olympic Flame with Lloyds TSB by his friend Julie Liddell, from Hartlepool. She told how Ian had been “a true inspiration showing courage in tragedy.”

His name, and that of every other torch bearer, was today confirmed by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG).

Ian, of Blake Close, in Billingham, who has a marketing and communications business on the Queens Meadow business park in Hartlepool, added: “I am trying to imagine what it is going to be like.

“I am sure as it gets closer I will get more and more excited. It is going to be a fantastic day.”

Olympic chiefs have confirmed that Ian will be carrying the torch on Sunday, June 17, in Bishop Auckland.

Meanwhile, the list of people to carry the torch through the streets of Hartlepool has also been announced.

It includes town people Brian Baines, 42, Alan Brown, 61, Ben Cummins, 35, and Stuart Langley, 29.

Bob Anderson, 62, will be one of the torch bearers to get the honour in his hometown of Peterlee.